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Lennon readies Hoops for Dutch onslaught

Celtic manager Neil Lennon fully expects Utrecht to go for the jugular in tonight's Europa League clash but insists his side will be ready for the challenge.

The Hoops boast a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the play-offs at Parkhead last week and are determined to finish the job in Holland.

Utrecht coach Ton du Chatinier claimed all the pressure was on Celtic to salvage their European hopes after they crashed out of the Champions League at the qualifying stage.

But, with Celtic firmly in the driving seat following goals from Efrain Juarez and Georgios Samaras, Lennon disagrees with his opposite number.

"I think the onus is on them," said the Hoops boss.

"With them being the home team and being 2-0 down, I think they will come out and attack but we will be ready for that.

"We've got plenty of pace in the team, not just for Utrecht but to handle other teams as well."

The gulf in revenue between the Champions League and the Europa League has been well documented over the last couple of days.

But, despite missing out on the opportunity to join Old Firm rivals Rangers in the money-spinning group stages of Europe's top club competition, Lennon insists continental outings are still crucial for the Parkhead side this term.

"It's very important," he said. "A lot of players come to Celtic to play European football so you don't want that to be finished by August."

Lennon would love to kill off the tie with an early goal but concedes that a degree of patience may be required.

"We just want a goal at any time," he said. "We just have to be patient and concentrate for 90 minutes and see what the outcome is.

"Having seen our recent performances, I'll be taking a lot from that."

Celtic do not have a good record on the road in European competition but defender Jos Hooiveld insists he has no interest in the past.

He said: "Like every game, this is a game in itself. We are feeling confident, just like before any game."

3FC UTRECHT v CELTIC, SETANTA SPORTS 1, KO 7.30